Public School Gaia Worship

Likewise, religion is firmly banned in our public schools, but that doesn't mean they're not religious. Neil goes to an environmental science magnet school, but there is a frighteningly clear undercurrent of Gaia worship. For the past several years, I've gone to the schoolwide Earth Day presentation, which usually takes place in the morning. One year, several students came out as various animals: a deer, a banana slug, a squirrel, a bird and spoke about their habitats. A teacher came out as Mother Earth and all the "animals" knelt around her as she spoke about how important it was for man to stop destroying the world the wild animals lived in. I love nature, animals and my environment, but on a certain level, that made me uncomfortable.

Take away a man’s beliefs, and he’ll find something new to believe in. For instance, it’s a wide-spread assumption that communism goes hand in hand with atheism; but just because good Soviet communists didn’t believe in God, it didn’t keep them from worshiping Lenin. When I was an exchange student in Leningrad, my Ukrainian roommate hung an icon-like picture of Lenin over my bed, possibly to ward off my evil capitalist spirits. I found a children’s book (which I should have, in retrospect, bought) in which Lenin faith-healed laborers; and I think I still have the Baby Lenin pin, complete with halo, I bought, as well as pins that could be translated as “Lenin lived, Lenin died, Long live Lenin!”

Likewise, religion is firmly banned in our public schools, but that doesn’t mean they’re not religious. Neil goes to an environmental science magnet school, but there is a frighteningly clear undercurrent of Gaia worship. In the first grade, Neil learned “the pledge of allegiance to the Earth;” ironically, that same year, the Supreme Court was deciding whether to take “and under God” out of the real Pledge of Allegiance. And for the past several years, I’ve gone to the schoolwide Earth Day presentation, which usually takes place in the morning. One year, several students came out as various animals: a deer, a slug, a turtle, a woodpecker, and snake and spoke about their habitats. A teacher came out as Mother Earth and all the “animals” knelt around her as she spoke about how important it was for man to stop destroying the world the wild animals lived in. I love nature, animals and my environment, but on a certain level, that made me uncomfortable.

But the whole month leading up to Earth Day (which didn’t even exist in my elementary school) is this way. Right now, posters are up all over school with various “facts” true or not, shaming the children into recycling more dilligently, reducing the amount of waste they produce, and finding reusable containers instead of disposable ones. The sentiments I agree with, the dogma I don’t. What’s the point in lecturing people to compost all their food scraps in a smelly, pest-attracting bin, particularly if they don’t garden and may not even have the room for a set of bins, much less a garden? Should my son become the American version of a Red Pioneer and report me for putting a diet Coke can in the garbage instead of the recycling, especially when our neighborhood’s creepy garbage-day scavenger is going to fish the diet Coke can out of whatever bin it’s in, and recycle it more efficiently than the city will anyway? The way it’s being done smacks of indoctrination, not education, and it’s far too self-righteous for my taste.

The parents, and most of the students, seem to take it with a grain of salt, which is probably the right approach to any religion. But you can’t convince me that our schools have embraced a separation of church and state: they’ve simply chosen a different church for the state.

2 Comments

  1. Chris

    Earth Day appears to have passed without notice in Sin City. Or, perhaps we just benefitted by Mary being on track break that week. At any rate, I wasn’t even aware that it had come, and gone until I read your blog.

    I hear San Francisco is going to ban plastic grocery bags ‘made from petroleum products’. quote: ‘Proponent says ban would save 450,000 gallons of oil a year’. I wonder if that is true, or another lie ‘for the greater good’? How many trees will be cut down to make paper bags instead? And would the loss of oxygen/increase in carbon dioxide emissions caused by the loss of those trees have less of an impact on Mother Earth than that caused by the production and use of petroleum-based grocery bags? Because I find it hard to believe the masses are going to cart a handful of cloth or reusable string bags with them to the grocery store. Paper or plastic, please?

    “Mirkarimi said the ban would save 450,000 gallons of oil a year and remove the need to send 1,400 tons of debris now sent annually to landfills. The new rules would, however, allow recyclable plastic bags, which are not widely used today.”

    And here I though that all the plastic bags in use today were recyclable or at least were photo-degradable.

    Here is an interesting statistic. Of course I have no idea if it’s true or not: from the Energy Information Administration website:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/saving/recycling/solidwaste/plastics.html

    Plastics are not the waste and energy culprits that some people think they are. Plastics are really very energy efficient. It takes 20-40 percent less energy to manufacture plastic grocery bags than paper ones. And, since plastics are lightweight and take up so little space, it is much more efficient to transport them. It takes seven trucks to deliver the same number of paper bags as can be carried in one truckload of plastic bags.

    That would make it seem as though San Francisco could save a lot more oil by banning paper bags. Why don’t they just ban SUVs, light trucks and other gas guzzling vehicles (grin). Oh! better yet! Why not just ban all autos altogether?

    The next ban should be on Red Heart and other low-quality brands acrylic yarn, which are also petroleum based products…

    Reply
  2. cjbickford (Post author)

    San Francisco actually proposed the plastic grocery bag ban last year, but settled for the stores voluntarily agreeing to limit such bags themselves–but apparently it wasn’t to the politicians’ satisfaction. You’re absolutely right on the facts of plastic bags, but it doesn’t matter to a demogogue who wants to look like the paragon of political correctness.

    As for banning cars in San Francisco, Peter and I are convinced that San Francisco has pretty much done so. Except for one artery of freeway, there is no quick way to drive through San Francisco, as there is with other cities. And parking there used to be so bad that Peter once got a parking ticket that cited him simply for “parking”. But as long as the politicians love their limos, and wouldn’t be caught dead on MUNI, so they’ll never get around to officially banning cars everywhere in the city.

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